Book#4: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
I love the tone of this book. It is fun and exciting and sexy and made me want to keep reading. . Diaz's style is accessible and he never harps on any one character so long that you get tired.
I love, love, love reading books about the Dominican. The country's history is so complex and heartbreaking. Julia Alvarez is one of my favorite authors and In the Time of Butterflies she recounts the brave story of the Mirabel sisters. They are often referenced here; their stories mentioned within the cruel context of the Dominican Dictator Trujillo.
The story is told with the backdrop of a fuku or curse that has fallen on our protagonist's family and the zafa or counter-curse that he narrator is trying to use to rid the original fuku. Although this was the whole context of the book, I didn't like the consequence and felt that the characters, the story and the history in this book could have easily carried themselves without what I'm sure is a relevant part of the culture but came off as a bit of a gimmick.
Book #5: The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
I always feel a bit foolish when I am walking around reading a book that has an "Oprah's Book Club" label on it but the last time I was the library bookstore, I couldn't find many things I liked and ended up grabbing about five books from Oprah's selections so you have many book club reviews to look forward to.
Most people who saw me reading this book had seen the movie and had lots of good things to say about it, so if you are not much of a reader you may want to check that out instead. It's been a long time since I've really just appreciated story telling. I loved how Dubus paints a story in which everyone is a villain and no one is a villain. He somehow captures that fine balance between the meaningfulness and meaninglessness of our choices. He demonstrates how the choices we make that change our life are often made uncertainly, without clarity or a definitiveness. But their consequences define us completely. They can lead to death or a life seemingly wasted as was the case with the characters in House of Sand and Fog.
So, despite what I am about to say, I really liked this book and would recommend it.
The more I read fiction, the more I am beginning to see patterns in writing. Formulas seem apparent and even with the best of writing, there tends to come a point in the book, usually about three quarters in, when I want to throw it against the wall, find the author and yell at him/her because they have ruined a story I was really, really loving.
I was afraid I was going to start skimming through the last pages of the book but Dubus finishes so strongly. In the last pages you can feel the tragedy wrapping around you and slowly bringing you down, forcing you to understand the intense sadness and emptiness in some lives.